A new charter of rights for victims of crime aims to provide more support to reduce trauma, manage complaints better and ensure they are kept better informed.
Announcing a public consultation on the proposed Charter of Rights for Victims of Crime, Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury said the Government was seeking feedback on three key issues:
- How information could be provided in an accurate and timely way to victims of crime about justice processes and their case
- What other opportunities exist for victims of crime to participate in the justice process
- What appropriate complaint management, remedial and oversight mechanisms are required for victims of crime.
Mr Rattenbury encouraged victims of crime, justice and victim support agencies and other community stakeholders to contribute to the development of the Charter.
“Feedback from victims of crime is essential to the development of the Charter, and in identifying potential models for providing greater support to victims during the justice process,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“In better understanding where practical and legal barriers or challenges and opportunities exist in delivering victim rights, we will then consider what system-wide initiatives may support victims to access their rights and ensure justice agencies deliver them.”
He said the Charter’s aim was to ensure that victims of crime received consistent and respectful treatment in the criminal justice system.
“Victims and survivors may feel that they are indelibly changed by their experiences with the justice system. These experiences can be incredibly distressing,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“The ACT has a strong history of upholding human rights and promoting and protecting the interests of victims of crime. A Charter of Rights for Victims of Crime will ensure that that the experiences of victims and survivors of crime are validated and upheld at every stage of the justice process.”
The Minister said the Charter would also increase confidence in reporting crimes, better provision of evidence, reduced re-traumatisation of victims and a more efficient and transparent justice process overall.
Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates welcomed the move, saying it showed that the Government was committed to improving the experience of victims of crime in the ACT.
She said a Charter of Rights would provide crucial legal recognition of the needs and interests of victims of crime including their right to access information, to participate in the criminal justice process, and to be provided with genuine opportunities to have their concerns recognised and resolved.
The Charter consultation process would also consider key initiatives required to support victims to access their rights.
“In particular, I would like to see swift progress towards the establishment of a pilot intermediary scheme to assist vulnerable witnesses to communicate effectively during police interviews and in court hearings. Explicitly acknowledging victims’ rights in the Human Rights Act 2004 is a reform that should also be actioned without delay” Ms Yates said. “The faster we can get these initiatives into action, the faster victims will benefit.”
More information is available at the Your Say website: www.yoursay.act.gov.au.